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The Captains' call

afl.com.au  March 16, 2017 2:21 PM

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St Kilda and Melbourne have been widely tipped as the big improvers in 2017, but asked to decide between them, the 18 AFL captains believe the Saints are better placed for September football this year.

The results of the annual pre-season captains' survey have been released with 11 captains nominating St Kilda as finalists this year compared to six for Melbourne. 

The Saints finished ninth last season with 12 wins, while Melbourne finished 10th with 10 wins. 

Sydney was the only club unanimously selected to play finals in 2017, while crosstown Greater Western Sydney was the clear premiership favourite. 

The captains were asked which seven other teams, apart from their own, could make the finals and which other club, apart from their own, could make the Grand Final.

All up, 11 different clubs were listed as potential finalists, while just four were tipped to make the Grand Final. Interestingly, two captains believed 2016 premiers Western Bulldogs will miss the finals. 

Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield was the choice of five captains to go back-to-back in the Brownlow Medal, while Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs), Dan Hannebery (Sydney) and Dustin Martin (Richmond) each polled two votes. 

Gold Coast spearhead Tom Lynch and Swans star Lance Franklin each received six votes as the likely Coleman medallist, ahead of 2016 winner Josh Kennedy, with four votes. 

Last year's No.1 draft pick, Essendon's Andrew McGrath, led the predictions to win the NAB AFL Rising Star with four votes, ahead of Tim Taranto from GWS and Port Adelaide's Sam Powell-Pepper who both received three votes. 

Full voting

Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight? (18 times seven selections)
Sydney (17), GWS (16), West Coast (16), Adelaide (15), Western Bulldogs (15), Geelong (14), Hawthorn (14), St Kilda (11), Melbourne (6), Essendon (1), Fremantle (1)

Which other club is most likely to reach the Grand Final? (No captains picked the Western Bulldogs in 2016)
GWS (14), Adelaide (1), Sydney (1), West Coast (1), Western Bulldogs (1) 

Who do you think will win the 2017 Brownlow Medal? (Four captains correctly nominated Patrick Dangerfield in 2016)
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong, five votes), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs, two votes), Dan Hannebery (Sydney, two votes), Dustin Martin (Richmond, two votes), Lance Franklin (Sydney, one vote), Max Gawn (Melbourne, one vote), Luke Shuey (West Coast, one vote), Rory Sloane (Adelaide, one vote), Adam Treloar (Collingwood, one vote), Callan Ward (GWS, one vote), Jobe Watson (Essendon, one vote) 

Who do you think will win the 2017 Coleman Medal? (Seven captains correctly nominated Josh Kennedy in 2016)
Lance Franklin (Sydney, six votes), Tom Lynch (Gold Coast, six votes), Josh Kennedy (West Coast, four votes), Jeremy Cameron (GWS, two votes)

Who do you think will win the 2017 NAB AFL Rising Star? (Seven captains correctly nominated Callum Mills in 2016)
Andrew McGrath (Essendon, four votes), Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide, three votes), Tim Taranto (GWS, three votes), Jacob Hopper (GWS, two votes), Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane Lions, two votes), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast, one vote), Sean Darcy (Fremantle, one vote), Caleb Marchbank (Carlton, one vote), Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton, one vote)